Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing

Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing

by Kyle Petty, Ellis Henican

Narrated by Kyle Petty

Kyle Petty

Unabridged — 9 hours, 41 minutes

Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing

Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing

by Kyle Petty, Ellis Henican

Narrated by Kyle Petty

Kyle Petty

Unabridged — 9 hours, 41 minutes

Audiobook (Digital)

(Not eligible for purchase using B&N Audiobooks Subscription credits)

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Notes From Your Bookseller

Any fans of racecar driving will want to read Kyle Petty’s Swerve or Die. Petty talks not only about his own time as a NASCAR racer and his family history with the sport, but also goes into detail about the history of the company and other greats who have driven on the track.

This program is read by Kyle Petty and Includes his performance of his original song, "Under the Big Top."

Stock-car racing star, country singer, and sports broadcaster Kyle Petty shares his familial legacy, intertwined with NASCAR's founding and history, in Swerve or Die-written with Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellis Henican, the New York Times bestselling coauthor of In the Blink of an Eye.

“Born into racing royalty. The only son of NASCAR's winningest driver ever. The grandson of one of the sport's true pioneers. The nephew of our very first Hall of Fame engine builder. It's quite a family to represent, and through it all, I've somehow managed to keep being Kyle.”

Kyle Petty won his very first stock-car race, the Daytona ARCA 200, in 1979 when he was eighteen. Hailed as a third-generation professional NASCAR racer, he became an instant celebrity in circles he had been around all his young life. Despite being the grandson and son of racing champions Lee Petty and Richard Petty, Kyle didn't inherit innate talent. Working in his family's North Carolina race shop from an early age, he learned all about car mechanics and maintenance long before he got behind the wheel. And although Kyle continued the family business, driving “Petty blue” colored cars emblazoned with his grandfather's #42-a number once used by Marty Robbins-his career took a different route than his forebears'.

In Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing, Kyle chronicles his life on and off the racetrack, presenting his insider's perspective of growing up throughout the sport's popular rise in American culture. In between driving and running Petty Enterprises for thirty years, Kyle took some detours into country music, voiced Cal Weathers in Pixar's Cars 3, and started his annual motorcycle Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. And when his nineteen-year-old son Adam, a fourth-generation racing Petty, tragically lost his life on the track, Kyle founded Victory Junction, a camp for children with chronic and serious medical conditions in Adam's name-with help from Academy Award-winning actor and motorsports enthusiast Paul Newman.

Filled with NASCAR history, stories of his family's careers, and anecdotes about some of stock-car racing's most famous drivers, Kyle's memoir also tackles the sport's evolution, discussing how welcoming diverse racers, improving car and track safety features, and integrating green technology will benefit NASCAR's competitors and fans in the future.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It’s always darkest in the shadow of greatness. Each generation has had to prove itself along the way, and believe me it doesn’t get easier. Kyle’s story is a uniquely American one about a uniquely American sport. I highly recommend it." —Jay Leno

"After all the things Kyle’s done, I knew there had to be a book in there somewhere. Well, here it is. And I’ll tell you what: Kyle doesn’t believe in keeping secrets. Even I learned some things in here. And yeah, his mom deserves all the credit for how he turned out." —Richard Petty

"He’s lived through the worst possible scenario that could happen to anyone. Imagine going back to Loudon after that! You could throw haymakers at Kyle. He just rolls with it. He’s like, ‘I’m gonna walk around with a ponytail…I’m gonna sing…I’m gonna say whatever I wanna say on TV.’ With that upbeat attitude of his and the way he grabs every opportunity, I do think Kyle has lived the lives of five people combined." —Joey Logano

"For a guy that could be a prick because of who he is, he is just the greatest, most down-to-earth person I’ve ever met. Just like his dad. You gotta read Kyle’s book. You gotta." —Ric Flair

“As a competitor, broadcaster, family member and dear friend, Kyle has lived through every era of our sport, impacting the lives of so many along the way. With a heartfelt gift for storytelling, his love for NASCAR and passion for the people in it make his first-hand account of motorsports history a must-read for racing fans everywhere.” —Lesa France Kennedy, executive vice chair of NASCAR

"An alternately entertaining and sobering look at the sport and big business of auto racing." —Kirkus

"An intimate view inside one of NASCAR’s foremost families.” —nascar.com

"A seemingly endless reel of NASCAR highlights.” —Daytona Beach News

Library Journal


As a member of NASCAR's "First Family," Petty grew up on the racetracks with his grandfather Lee (one of the sport's pioneers), father Richard (winner of 200 races), and uncle Maurice (crew chief and engine builder). In this entertaining autobiography, Petty recalls growing up in small-town North Carolina, where his father wouldn't let him drive go-karts because they were "too dangerous"—so he rode motorcycles instead. The book focuses on Petty's own racing career but also discusses songwriting, his role as an NBC NASCAR commentator, and learning to fly a plane, and there's a heartfelt tribute to his son Adam, a rising racer killed in a crash in 2000. Interestingly, Petty expounds on social issues and their echoes in NASCAR: homophobia (like that faced by driver Tim Richmond when he announced he had AIDS); racism (discussing driver Bubba Wallace's 2020 movement to ban Confederate flags from NASCAR venues); and diversity in team ownership (NASCAR team owners now include Michael Jordan and Pitbull). VERDICT A fast-paced read about one of the most famous families in auto racing; even casual fans will want to ride along.—Susan Belsky

Kirkus Reviews

The NASCAR legend looks back on his life on the racetrack.

“From the highest highs to the lowest lows, no one has lived the NASCAR life quite the way I have.” So writes Petty, now 62, old enough to have grown up in a time when muscle cars were made not just of Malibus and Barracudas, but also Monte Carlos and even Buicks. The conventional wisdom, he writes, is that NASCAR grew out of jocular contests between bootleggers after outrunning the revenuers. In fact, the races began as a pastime by soldiers who, having returned from the battlefronts of World War II, didn’t have much else in the way of entertainment in the South. Petty’s grandfather was one such racer, as was his father, and Petty’s son—who was killed on the track in 2000, when he was only 19—extended the racing tradition to make the Pettys the only known four-generation sports dynasty in history. Writing with the assistance of Henican, Petty is a capable storyteller who’s comfortable on and off the track, and if some of his racing reminiscences are geared toward the motorhead set, he records plenty of human-interest yarns—not least his affecting writing about his son’s death. One interesting anecdote concerns Petty’s relatively brief tenure as a country singer, summoned by Hank Williams Jr. to reflect on the long shadows their famous fathers cast. Another recalls his struggle to find an appropriate memorial to his son in the form of a camp for underprivileged kids, one that came into being with the benevolent support of racer and track fan Paul Newman. Just as vivid are the author’s accounts of the many mishaps a track driver is bound to suffer in the pursuit of a decidedly dangerous sport. Recalling a crash, he writes, “That didn’t look normal. It was a bone sticking out of my left thigh. A big bone. A very big bone.”

An alternately entertaining and sobering look at the sport and big business of auto racing.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176410235
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 08/09/2022
Edition description: Unabridged
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